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NewsIAA building technician carrying on late mother’s legacy

IAA building technician carrying on late mother's legacy

Matt Wettersten, GROWMARK publications and media relations specialist, mwettersten@growmark.com

​His smile is as shiny as the water fountains he cleans and polishes, and IAA building technician Jerome McNeese is always smiling. He greets every person he passes while cleaning the building's 500,000 square feet. 

"Hey Nick," McNeese says while heading to empty the next trash can. 

"Good morning everyone," he says while passing a group of people as he shuttles cardboard to the recycling.

"Alright Tim, your Packers did it. They won the division." McNeese, a diehard Chicago Bears fan, even says that with a smile.

His friendliness comes as a bonus on top of his responsibilities for the building's daily cleanliness and presentation. 

"I'm a people person," said McNeese. "I got that from my mother. She always said just saying hi goes a long way in life."

McNeese and co-worker Elaine Grismore do everything from cleaning the bathroom counters and mirrors, to taking out the trash and recycling.

"His first day he told me teamwork makes the dream work," recalled Grismore. 

What did she think about that introduction? 

"Slam Dunk! I knew he was a team player. Jerome is awesome. I always tell him how blessed we are to have him here in this building," she added.

McNeese paces the building with a cordless vacuum and cleaning bin on wheels that carries garbage and supplies. He navigates the halls with speed and precision, ensuring he's quick but thorough. He credits his mom for his kind yet hardworking attitude, as well as his efforts to pursue a squeaky clean image. He grew up in Chicago in a single parent household and is working now with a heavy heart. His mom passed away New Year's Day after a two and a half year battle with lung cancer.

"She said hard works pays off. It may not look like that in the beginning, but you will see a reward eventually," he said.

His quality of work and jovial personality isn't going unnoticed by employees at GROWMARK, Illinois Farm Bureau, and COUNTRY Financial. Many have commended McNeese on the job he does since being hired by 4M Building Solutions a year ago. 

"He has to be the most grateful, humble, and happiest person in this building," said GROWMARK Insurance Agency Manager Matt Wilson.

This quarter he's one of four employees being recognized by his company for going above and beyond. He gets a bonus incentive, recognition in the employee newsletter, and dinner with the CEO and Regional Manager. He was picked out of over 2,200 4M Building Solutions team members. They're the largest janitorial and related services provider in the United States. 

"Jerome is the epitome of what every employer would desire to represent [and] service our tenants and customers," said 4M Building Solutions President and CEO Tim Murch. "Jerome's work ethic is unequaled. [He's] always working with a smile and always asking what he can do for others. He is on a first name basis with many tenants and employees at [GROWMARK, Illinois Farm Bureau, and COUNTRY Financial] which speaks volumes of his service excellence, attitude, and commitment."

"It's gratifying, but at the same time it just means you have to work that much harder now because the bar has been set and you don't want to slack off," said McNeese. "You want to keep on going. I want to continue to excel higher next year and going forward."

He works hard and it doesn't stop when he punches out at the IAA Building. He works a second job three to four days a week at a local hotel as a front desk associate.

"I check guests in, make sure they feel comfortable, answer any questions, set up reservations, and things of that nature."

It's a natural fit with his personality. He says fatigue isn't a factor, despite spending many days working 7:30-4:00 at the IAA building and then 4:30-11:00 at the hotel. 

"I love doing what I do. I have kids and grandkids. I have a wife. That's motivation enough."

McNeese has four kids and six grandchildren, one of whom he and his wife legally adopted. He moved his family to Bloomington ten years ago looking for a change of scenery.

"I wanted to get our kids into a better school system. I grew up on the northwest side of Chicago and didn't want them to go through the things I went through. I wanted to give them a better opportunity for their future. Plus, my wife's family is here," he said.

McNeese hasn't let prior circumstances determine his future success. It's a mindset instilled upon him that he hopes to pass on to others. 

"I'm just trying to be an inspiration to my kids, grandkids, and anyone else who may have had a unique upbringing and inspire somebody."

Quality work, kindness, and professionalism are a clean sweep for success.